By Glenn Minnis
The NBA front office moved this week to come down hard on the Raptors to the tune of a $25,000 fine and unmeasurable heaps of public scorn over the hip-hop star and team Global Brand Ambassador's "public recruiting pitch" made to reigning league MVP and 2016 potential free-agent Kevin Durant while he was vacationing at one of his concert's north of the border earlier this week.
"Before we leave, I just want to show one of my brothers something," Drake told over-exuberant fans. "You know, my brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us. I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. Let him know what would happen."
The crowd erupted, though no more than all those did whenever Jay-Z would shout out LeBron James whenever he was sitting front-and-center at one of his joints in the days leading up to the four-time league MVP's free agent year in 2010. Jay may or may not have actually assumed his minority ownership in the Nets by then, but it was clearly established where the Brooklyn-born hip-hop icon's heart was when he repeatedly wished his bud all the best and the greatest level of clarity imaginable in coming to his decision.
And yet, it's Drake the league has moved to distance itself from and the Raptors whom actions they deem most punishable. The Toronto Globe and Mail reported NBA execs told the team they would rescind the fine if they agreed to sever all ties with this year's ESPY's host who earns zero salary for all his efforts.
But hey, game recognize game, and from the very beginning, the NBA has had issues with Drake's role and job description as someone entrusted with helping to "re-brand a franchise to be a more appealing destination for free agents" in ways it never did with Jay-Z's big-market campaigning for New York City.
Indeed, the process of recruiting and who engages in it as far as the NBA seems concerned is just that skittish. Take your pick as to how many teams will actually "tamper" with Kevin Durant by the end of the 2016. Now ask yourself if you think any other such rumored suitors such as the Lakers, Knicks or even Wizards will come to be penalized for any of it.
Toronto Raptors, you never had a chance, at least not along the lines that the likes of the Brooklyn Nets still do.
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